Arsenic and Old Books
A Cat in the Stacks Mystery
Berkley Prime Crime, Berkley Publishing Group, Penguin Group, 2015
Charlie Harris and Diesel return again, this time to solve the murder of a college professor that is widely disliked by students, faculty, Charlie and even Diesel. When the mayor of Athena, Mississippi shows up in the archive with 4 diaries that her husband’s distant grandmother wrote before,during and after the Civil War, a new war begins for those diaries. What do they contain that causes so much clamor and ultimately the death of the professor? Charlie and Diesel will find out!!
*Charlie Harris, librarian, semi-retired, working as an archivist in the local college library, most of his days are quietly spent cataloging old books and papers while Diesel sleeps in the window. Somehow trouble seems to find them and in this book its’ no exception. The Rachel Long diaries cause quite a stir, especially when Charlie starts discovering all the secrets it holds.
*Diesel, a gentle giant of a cat, a Maine Coon, seems to know exactly where to be at the right time. He does give Charlie quite the fright when he briefly disappears from the office.
*Lucinda Beckwith Long, Mayor of Athena, her family (and her husbands’) has a long history of politics, power and money in the region. Her son, Beck Long is running for state office and she donates the diaries in hopes his ancestor’s experiences will encourage voters
*Dr. Marie Steverton, history professor at the college, pushy, rude and totally unliked by any of the characters; she and Lucinda go back a long way and she wants those diaries. She has a definite way of getting what she wants, no matter who gets in the way.
*Kelly Grimes, another pushy woman who lies to Charlie about why she is demanding to see the diaries,
*Deputy Kanesha Berry, Sheriff’s deputy and reluctantly tolerates Charlie’s continuing presence in solving crimes.
*Azalea, Charlie’s housekeeper and mother of Kanesha; she keeps Charlie and Diesel well fed.
*Melba, secretary to Peter Vanderkeller, the director of the library, works downstairs from Charlie and Diesel; knows all the gossip around town
*Helen Louise Brady, Charlie’s love (he doesn’t like the word ‘girlfriend’), she makes an occasional appearance whenever Charlie and Diesel go to her place for lunch
Like the other books, I really enjoyed Arsenic and Old Books; although it wasn’t until the very end the arsenic came into play, the old books were there from the first page. The story delves into the past quite a bit as the diaries play an important role, but the story isn’t overloaded with static historical information. I really liked this book. The mystery is well developed and it wasn’t until the very end I figured out who the murderer was. I guessed several times along the way, but I was wrong. I guess that’s part of the fun of mysteries! Anyway, if you want a relaxing read, and a good mystery, this is the story for you. In fact, the only thing I didn’t like about it was that the mystery was over and the book had to end. I wanted to keep on reading about the folks of Athena, Mississippi!
Rating: 4 paws out of 5 because I can’t wait for 2016 to get here to read the next installment!!
“Miranda James” a pseudonym of Dean James
And of course, I have to close the review with a picture of a Maine Coon!!